Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Growing Talent: Promising Professional Development Models and Practices

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Growing Talent: Promising Professional Development Models and Practices

Article excerpt

One hundred days pass swiftly. In the week this editorial goes to press, President Obama is 80 days into his presidency. President Obama and the First Lady traveled to Europe for their first international trip, Congress passed Obama's budget, and Secretary of Education Duncan announced federal stimulus money will begin flowing to states and schools. The hard work to launch Obama's administration and enact his call for change is underway.

Central to Obama's vision to transform the nation is a commitment to give all America's youth access to a quality education. Thus, teacher quality is a focal point in his education agenda. The Obama Education Plan: An Education Week Guide (Education Week, 2009) devotes an entire chapter to outlining policies for recruitment, preparation, retention, and rewards for America's teacher force. Professional development, while mentioned several times throughout the book, plays a more peripheral role. Reflecting a human capital policy approach, many education initiatives under consideration rest on the assumption that developing talent within the teacher force is essential to opening educational opportunity and narrowing achievement gaps. Policies that emphasize recruiting the best and brightest, retaining only the most effective teachers, and rewarding teachers for meritorious performance are most prominent in policy discussions (Glaeser, 2008). From our perspective, central to talent development is an understanding that teaching is a complex intellectual and emotional task. Learning to teach well is a developmental process that unfolds over time when teachers have appropriate support and opportunities to learn (Feiman-Nemser, 2001; National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 1996). Thus, although we agree that recruiting, retaining, and rewarding talent matters in winning the "race to the top," growing talent may prove to be the critical step in transforming the teacher workforce.

The timing of this themed issue on "Powerful Professional Development Models and Practices" is particularly fortuitous. Acknowledging the key role that teacher professional development plays in improving teacher quality and classroom practices, we solicited manuscripts addressing the design, implementation, and impact of professional development models and practices, and the opportunities and obstacles that professional development designers and providers encounter. To frame the articles we feature, this editorial highlights the new administration's commitment to education and then offers several suggestions to guide the design of professional development programs and research.

Supportive Times for Educational Change

Obama's commitment to educational change is apparent in several of his initial acts as President. For example, his remarks when nominating Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education:

We cannot continue on like this. It is morally unacceptable for our children--and economically untenable for America. We need a new vision for a 21st century education system--one where we aren't just supporting existing schools but spurring innovation; where we're not just investing more money but demanding more reform; where parents take responsibility for their children's success; where we're recruiting, retaining, and rewarding an army of new teachers; where we hold our schools, teachers and government accountable for results; and where we expect all our children not only to graduate high school, but to graduate college and get a good paying job. These are precisely the goals to which Arne Duncan has devoted his life.... When it comes to school reform, Arne is the most hands-on of hands-on practitioners. For Arne, school reform isn't just a theory in a book--it's the cause of his life. (Obama Press Conference Announcing Arne Duncan for Education Secretary, 2009)

The President's commitment to education is also evident in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. …

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